Peru heads to the polls to elect president in polarised race

Voting has started in Peru’s presidential runoff as the country faces a polarising choice between right-wing populist Keiko Fujimori and left-wing teachers’ union organiser Pedro Castillo.

Polls in the runoff election opened at 7am (12:00 GMT) in most of the country’s 11,700 voting centres, with official results expected to begin rolling in from 11:30pm (04:30 GMT Monday).

The voting is taking place days after Peru almost tripled its coronavirus death toll following a government review, giving it the world’s worst coronavirus death rate per capita, and amid deep political weariness and frustration among voters.

“We’re fed up with always being governed by the same people, we want Peru to change,” Martha Huaman, 27, a fruit seller in Tacabamba, in the Cajamarca region where Castillo lives, told the AFP news agency.

Polls showed a statistical dead heat heading into the elections, but Fujimori, who had earlier trailed Castillo, had pulled slightly ahead.

Fujimori, 46, the daughter of jailed ex-president Alberto Fujimori, is promising to maintain economic stability and pro-free market policies in the world’s second-largest copper producer, as well as to pardon her father, who was sentenced for human rights violations.

Fujimori herself spent several months in custody on corruption allegations she denies. If she wins, the criminal case against her will be halted while she leads the country.

The voting is taking place days after Peru almost tripled its coronavirus death toll following a government review, giving it the world’s worst coronavirus death rate per capita, and amid deep political weariness and frustration among voters.

“We’re fed up with always being governed by the same people, we want Peru to change,” Martha Huaman, 27, a fruit seller in Tacabamba, in the Cajamarca region where Castillo lives, told the AFP news agency.

Polls showed a statistical dead heat heading into the elections, but Fujimori, who had earlier trailed Castillo, had pulled slightly ahead.

Fujimori, 46, the daughter of jailed ex-president Alberto Fujimori, is promising to maintain economic stability and pro-free market policies in the world’s second-largest copper producer, as well as to pardon her father, who was sentenced for human rights violations.

Fujimori herself spent several months in custody on corruption allegations she denies. If she wins, the criminal case against her will be halted while she leads the country.

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